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Plaza Looking Towards Downtown Rezoning and Revitalization

Public Hearing to Come Early In the New Year

The Village of Great Neck Plaza is in the midst of a process to consider rezoning of the downtown area, with the hope that new zoning codes could work towards revitalizing the village’s business district. For the past year Plaza Mayor Jean Celender and the board of trustees have been reviewing the B Business District zoning regulations with the “view toward updating our code,” the mayor told the Great Neck Record.

The village hired the professional planning consulting firm of Cameron Engineering & Associates and last month one of the Cameron consultants, Robert Svadlenka, AICP, made a presentation at a board of trustees meeting. Mr. Svadlenka discussed results of the consultants’ research and suggested alternate zoning options for this business district.

Mayor Celendar explained that at this point, the village is considering an “updating of our zoning code for the business district to encourage sustainable development that will be consistent with the look and feel of our downtown neighborhood retail center … yet provide for mixed-use development.” Referring to “mixed-use development,” the mayor said that one example would be for a code permitting retail use with residential use above the third floor, or possibly the mix of commercial offices and residential use.

Mayor Celender also told the Record that the village is working towards “accessing New York State’s Main Street grant program.” And the mayor added that, along these lines, the village has been working with New York State Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel, with the Great Neck Chamber Downtown Recruitment and with the Plaza’s BID (business improvement district) to “ensure that the transition for our Main Street, largely encompassing Middle Neck and the adjoining business areas, has redevelopment opportunities that can add new life, with investment of public and private resources.”

Mayor Celender said that in order to secure Main Street grants, the zoning for the downtown must be in place and this zoning must meet certain guidelines, so the zoning study and amendments are the first step. 

The mayor further explained that “Down the road, applying for Main Street grants can be a vehicle to assist us in ongoing revitalization of the Plaza’s downtown through permitting mixed-use development and up to three story building height, as well as façade renovations.”

However, Mayor Celender did emphasize that the rezoning is independent of applying for and securing a state grant. She then noted that the Village of Great Neck Plaza has been quite successful in obtaining state grants, and thus she believes that this is “a sound way to leverage our local village monies.”

Currently, the Plaza is moving forward with developing draft legislation to modify the B Business District. Mayor Celender anticipates that a public hearing on the rezoning proposals will be held in early 2011. She said that the public hearings will be valuable in obtaining additional feedback and public input on the proposed zoning changes. 

Mayor Celender encourages members of the public to “stay tuned, get involved and help us make positive and beneficial changes to our downtown that will encourage smart growth while maintaining the Plaza’s hometown feel and not overburden community resources or our school district.” 

For further information on the Cameron Engineering Study and the presentation, visit the Village of Great Neck Plaza’s website at www.greatneckplaza.net.